Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A story with a happy ending, out of Tacloban, after Typhoon Yolanda

"There was never a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope..."

Over lunch at L'Opera in the Fort the other day, the ambassador of an important country told me this story with a happy ending, about three young girls from his country who had been trapped in Tacloban during Typhoon Yolanda.

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Much has been made of the lawlessness taking place in some parts of southern Philippines, where people are desperate for food, water and aid.


But three young foreign girls made it out of Tacloban, with the help of other people who had suffered through the typhoon, and they are now safely back in their countries.

These three young girls flew to Tacloban last month to engage in some voluntary work, as part of their school program in their countries.

By all accounts, they had a happy and positive experience until the day that Typhoon Yolanda hit southern Philippines.


We can only wonder what these girls went through during Typhoon Yolanda, as they were too traumatized to recount their ordeal when they landed safely in Manila.

But it's really close to a miracle that they found themselves together and emerged relatively unscathed by the fury of Typhoon Yolanda.

They were staying with foster families in Tacloban, and they don't know what has happened to any of their foster families, in the chaos of the typhoon and its aftermath.

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But after the typhoon, there they were, stuck in the second floor of a house, throwing pieces of paper down at passersby, with the phone numbers of their families back in their home countries written on them.

They were unable to contact their families themselves, perhaps because all cellular signals were down in southern Philippines.


In the meantime, their families back home and the embassy in Manila were frantic, trying to find ways to locate these three young girls. The ambassador and the embassy tried every way possible to locate these girls, but it was difficult because most traditional channels were down.

Then the wife of the ambassador actually went on Facebook, where she posted an announcement about these three young girls.

Again, miraculously, a British national who had survived Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban, and who was airlifted out of Tacloban, responded to her Facebook message, saying he thought he had seen the three girls, safe after the typhoon, on the second floor of a house.

He'd realized they were foreigners, and so he'd spoken to them and told them to walk towards the airport to get help.

This was the first indication that the girls were okay.

From someone's Facebook account


Meanwhile, the girls had made their way to the airport.

At the airport, the girls bumped into a group of American students who had also been in Tacloban during Typhoon Yolanda and who were about to get airlifted out of the city by the American military.

One of the American students spoke with the US military and helped arrange for the girls to be included in the airlift of the Americans.

This was how they made it back to Manila, where the ambassador met them at the airport and arranged for their flights back home.


When I heard the story, I said: "That's nothing short of a miracle, that the three of them were together and safe, and now back home." 

As we were having lunch, the flight out of Manila with these three young girls on it, was taking off from NAIA 1.

There are many sad stories coming out of southern Philippines right now. But this is one with a happy ending, in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

1 comment:

  1. I read your blog , i would like to appropriate to you for that.
    thanks for sharing..